“I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible; from the air fast down and from the ground fast up.” – Jesse Owens
In 1936 James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens attended the Berlin Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. Hitler was confident these Games would support his assertion that the German people were the dominant race.
Owens faced pressure from both the black community, who wanted the USA to boycott the games, and the American Olympic Committee who stated that not to compete would be “un-American”. Eventually, Jesse decided to participate and won four gold medals, single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of “Aryan supremacy”.
On returning home he was not allowed to travel with the white athletes. After a New York ticker-tape parade, he attended a reception in his honour at the Waldorf Astoria but was prevented from entering by the main doors, instead being forced to travel in a freight elevator. He later said; “I wasn’t invited up to shake hands with Hitler- but I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.”